How to build a sequel to 2014’s comedy smash Neighbors ($270 million worldwide), in which new parents, Mac (Seth Rogen) and wife Kelly (Rose Byrne), waged war with the hard-partying fratboys next door and their ab-fab house leader Teddy (Zac Efron)? Easy. Bring the cast back and turn the frat into a sorority. You gotta be kidding, right? Nope. And the joke’s on us because director Nicholas Stoller and a team of screenwriters, including Rogen, poke fun at their own cash-in premise and then get in wicked digs at 2.0 stoners and sexists.
Rogen and Byrne are crazy fun company. Mac and Kelly are OK with their young daughter playing with a pink dildo dressed as a princess. They think a move to the burbs will bring normalcy. But the house they’re selling is under a 30-day escrow. First of all, neither Mac nor Kelly know what escrow means. It means the new owners have a month to change their minds about buying the house. And, duh!, how is that not going to happen when the sorority moves in next door.
The movie earns points for giving credit to the sorority sisters, led Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her BFFs — Beth (Kiersey Clemons) and Nora (Beanie Feldstein). The girls are fed up with the “super-rapey frats” and having to learn the skill of “eating out a guy’s ass.” They want to overturn the rule that says frats can throw parties but sororities can’t. It’s war.
Rogen and his crew aren’t delivering anything fresh, but in this case familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, just more laughs. Efron gets his share, especially when he and Rogen go shirtless at a tailgate party. Teddy is lost in this post-college world — his career is going nowhere, his bestie (Dave Franco) has married a dude, and even the sorority girls, who think Teddy’s a hottie, dump him. “You’re not like us, dude, ” says one. “You’re an old person.” Ouch. Credit Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising for leaning in closer to the characters and letting feelings show through the farce. Even when the one-liners and sight gags don’t land, being in on the joke makes a difference.